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5 Important Things You Need To Know About ‘Check Engine’ Light In Cars

Nwogbunyama Emeka

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spark plug

Check Engine or Service Engine light on the dashboard cluster of your car can be very confusing and can throw one off balance. This faulty light does not specifically say what is actually wrong with the car.

Unlike other lights such as Airbag Check light and Engine oil check light which specifies the exact problem, check engine is very much different. There are a lot of reasons why the light can come up.

As threatening as this warning sounds, it can be as unserious as a lose fuel cap and as well be as serious as a malfunctioning catalytic converter.

Generally, this warning light offers no explanation why you need to check the engine suddenly.





This light can come in two modes, the steady check engine light and secondly, a blinking check engine light.

  • When this check engine light is blinking
    The situation is usually a very serious one such as misfiring of the car engine.
    When the engine misfires, unburned fuel is dumped into the exhaust system;  this pushes the temperature of the catalytic converter to its breaking point.When the check engine light blinks repeatedly, find a safe place and park your car. Then organize an auto electrician to carry out diagnoses.
  • When the check engine light is steady
    This situation is not an emergency situation. You can continue driving but ensure you find out what the fault is as soon as possible.
    There are reasons why the check engine light comes up; they include:

 

 

  1. Loose or bad gas cap:
    car fuel cap
    Loose gas cap can trigger this check light to appear steady on your dashboard cluster. This is regarded to be the slightest cause for the check light to appear.This gas cap seals the fuel system which makes it maintain the pressure in your fuel tank.Loose or damaged fuel cap will reduce the mileage of your car as well as increase the emission.When the check engine light comes on, the first thing advised you do is to pull over and then tighten the fuel cap. Replace it if it’s already bad.

    This could be a solution to the problem. After ensuring you have properly done this, continue with driving your car to see if the check engine light goes off.

  2. Bad/failing catalytic converter :

    The function of this catalytic converter is to convert the harmful gases such as carbon monoxide from your car into less harmful emission.A failing catalytic converter will affect the movement of your car; it won’t go faster when you step on the gas when the damage becomes severe.This problem can trigger the check engine light to come on.A bad oxygen sensor can hasten the failure of this catalytic converter.
  3. Faulty oxygen sensor:
    car oxygen sensor

    When this sensor deteriorates, it fails to give the accurate reading of the air to fuel ratio. The oxygen sensor monitors the exhaust for unburned fuel.Faulty oxygen can cause the check engine light to come up.
  4. Faulty mass airflow sensor:

    This is another trigger to the check engine light on your dashboard. This sensor directs your computerized car on the correct amount of fuel to add based on the amount of air going to the engine.A failing mass airflow sensor would always give your car poor idling as well as stall your car.Have the sensor diagnosed and replaced if necessary.
  5. Bad spark plugs or HT cables:
    spark plug
    As the fuel cap seal the fuel system, the spark plugs seal the combustion chamber.Spark plugs ignite the spark needed to burn the mixed air and fuel in the cylinders.Plugs fail over time and there is no way to avoid it failing.These are some of the reason why the check engine can come up.

    When it appears, have your car diagnosed in order to know what exactly the problem is. Remember to first tightening your car fuel cap first.

    You can as well as the comment section to share your experience or add yours to the points we already have above. We love hearing from you.

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Emeka is a Contributor at Autojosh. A graduate of Electrical/Electronic Engineering with a B.Eng degree. Emeka is a car enthusiast who is interested in traveling, writing, movies and driving. He also loves drinking garri with cold water.

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